Monday, October 01, 2007

Passion for Education

At one point in my college career I had decided to accept my parents' admonition regarding my desire to major in fine art and I started taking education classes so that I might have something to "fall back on" in case the artist thing didn't work out. In those days the curriculum was full of "methods" classes where the students were taught how to assert control over a class, how to teach from a textbook and not make waves with administrators.

But there were two classes that opened my eyes to a different way of looking at education and thinking about the children we would be teaching. In those classes we read books like Teaching as a Subversive Activity by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner, John Holt's The Underachieving School and Death at an Early Age by Jonathan Kozol. These authors insisted that the old methods and systems had made public schools into places that prevent learning, and that it was possible for a teacher to inspire students to engage with and think critically about the world around them.

Of course, this kind of thing was totally up my alley, and though eventually I realized that teaching wouldn't work for me, the ideas that those authors talked about still resonate. One of those revolutionary authors, Jonathan Kozol, whom some of you may recognize from his engaging essays on NPR, is coming to town this week. He's here to talk about his new book, "Letters to a Young Teacher," on Wednesday evening at the First Congregational Church and then on Thursday at Powell's Books in Beaverton, and he's well worth seeking out. You'll come away moved and inspired.

Details: Jonathan Kozol on his new book, "Letters to a Young Teacher." Wed., Oct. 3, at 7 pm; $15, tickets available by calling 1-800-992-TIXX or online. First Congregational United Church of Christ, 1126 SW Park Ave.

Jonathan Kozol reading from "Letters to a Young Teacher." Thurs., Oct. 4, at 7 pm; Free. Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd. Phone 800-878-7323.

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